Mark Ames writing for AlterNet gets it right as he addresses the tragic shooting at Fort Hood, Texas just two days ago. To focus on Major Hasan's ethnicity or religion only masks deeper issues the armed forces is dealing with. From objections to war to the many suicides that go unreported, from soldiers that go AWOL to the huge increase in soldier divorce rates and domestic violence cases, many that lead to assault, battery and murder.
The issue shouldn't be that Nadal Hasan was a Muslim — he was a solider, and one uniquely trained to listen to the problems and issues faced by his fellow soldiers as they returned back from the horrors of the wars we're battling. Hasan had to relieve these men and women of their mental stresses, listening and empathizing and helping them cope. But who helped him cope? He is a sick individual, no less sick than the George Hennard Jr. who in 1991, at a Killeen, Texas diner, drove his truck through the window of the cafe and started shooting — killing 23 people before taking his own life. Hasan was no less sick than Virgina Tech grad student Seung-Hui Cho, who in 2007 shot and killed 33 fellow students. I can go on, listing names and incidents of people who are sick, people who snap — and who simply go off hurting others in ways that make us gasp. It's disturbing and it's frustrating, and it sickens us — how can there be so much evil living and lurking among us?
Hennard snapped during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings at the point of an Anita Hill interview — he shouted racist epithets and ran out like a loon that night and committed his killing spree the next day. Cho was weak, lonely young man who was bullied his entire life. We didn't jump to conclusions about white or Asian Christian men, lumping them all together as bad and evil terror mongers. We shouldn't draw any conclusions about Arabs or Muslims because of Hasan's background.
We need to consider that there are so many more sick people in our midst, and they're old, young, black, white, brown and yellow. They're husbands, wives, and some are even heads of communities — even clergy at the local church. They're sick people who need help and we need to address the fact that they exist and not continue to sweep many of our social ills under the carpet. If we don't learn from this tragedy, then 13 lives will have been lost in vain and we will have let this sick man off the hook. We'll look at him and say he killed because he was a Muslim and we'll move on until next week or next month, and something bad will happen again, and we'll find a new excuse.